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Challenging Identity Hierarchies: Gender and Consociational Power-Sharing


Kennedy, Ronan, Claire Pierson, and Jennifer Thomson. 2016. “Challenging Identity Hierarchies: Gender and Consociational Power-Sharing.” The British Journal of Politics and International Relations 18 (3): 618-33.

Authors: Ronan Kennedy, Claire Pierson, Jennifer Thomson


Consociational democracy has become the most influential paradigm in the field of powersharing institutional design and post-conflict peacebuilding. Consociation institutes representation for certain formerly excluded groups. However, it simultaneously inhibits effective political representation for groups that do not align with the societal divisions that consociation seeks to accommodate, specifically the ‘additional’ cleavage of gender. Given the extensive use of the consociational model as a peacebuilding tool in divided states and the growing awareness of the disproportionate negative effect of conflict on women, there is a surprising lack of consideration of the effect that consociational power-sharing has on women’s representation. This article considers the specific impact that the consociational model has on women’s representation. We argue that because gender is an integral factor in conflict, it should therefore be integral to postconflict governance. With empirical reference to contemporary Northern Ireland, it is illustrated that consociationalism is a ‘gender-blind’ theory.

Keywords: consocationalism, gender, Northern Ireland, post-conflict, power-sharing

Topics: Gender, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Peacebuilding, Political Participation, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland

Year: 2016

Feminising Politics, Politicising Feminism? Women in Post-Conflict Northern Irish Politics


Thomson, Jennifer. 2019. “Feminising Politics, Politicising Feminism? Women in Post-Conflict Northern Irish Politics.” British Politics January, 1–17.

Author: Jennifer Thomson


2018 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and the establishment of devolved governance in Northern Ireland. Yet, whilst devolution has largely been held to have positive effects in Scotland and Wales with regards to both women’s descriptive and substantive representation, this impact has been less discernible in Northern Ireland. Of the four regions of the United Kingdom, politics in Northern Ireland is arguably the most unfeminised—women have routinely seen lower descriptive representation in the Northern Irish Assembly and policy-making in areas such as reproductive rights lies far behind the rest of the UK. The article explores why politics is so unfeminised in the post-conflict context in Northern Ireland, by looking at efforts to feminise formal politics (especially the various peace/inter-party agreements and attempts to include women in formal politics) and efforts to politicise feminist activism (the work of the women’s sector to influence policy-making in the province). It then explores some of the academic explanations as to why the feminisation of politics remains so difficult in Northern Ireland.

Keywords: women, gender, Northern Ireland, post-conflict, Peace agreeements

Topics: Gender, Women, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland

Year: 2019

A Seat at the Table—Is it Enough? Gender, Multiparty Negotiations, and Institutional Design in South Africa and Northern Ireland


Waylen, Georgina. 2014. “A Seat at the Table—Is It Enough? Gender, Multiparty Negotiations, and Institutional Design in South Africa and Northern Ireland.” Politics & Gender 10 (4): 495–523. 

Author: Georgina Waylen


Women actors and gender concerns have often been absent from the negotiated settlements that bring an end to violent conflicts and create new political institutions. And although scholars and activists argue that both women actors and gender concerns should be incorporated, there is less consensus about how this can happen effectively. Taking up Jane Mansbridge's (2014, 11) recent call for political scientists to analyze “negotiations to agreement” and the institutions that facilitate negotiations, this paper argues that analyzing not only the involvement of women and gender actors and their outcomes, but also the form and structure of the negotiations themselves, will give us a greater understanding of how these processes are gendered. Through a comparative analysis of two negotiated settlements—in South Africa and Northern Ireland—this paper examines how institutional design processes were gendered and the impact that gender actors (understood here as actors organizing around gender interests) had on these “new” institutions/structures. In each case, women, organized as women, attempted to influence from the inside the creation of new institutional frameworks intended to end long-standing conflicts. (Cambridge University Press) 

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Conflict, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, Southern Africa, Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland, South Africa

Year: 2014

Bombshell: The Many Faces of Women Terrorists


Bloom, Mia. 2011. Bombshell: The Many Faces of Women Terrorists. London: Hurst Publishers.

Author: Mia Bloom


The ultimate stealth weapon, female terrorists kill on average four times more people than their male counterparts. But why are more women drawn to terrorism than ever before? Do women volunteer to be terrorists, or are they coerced? Does women’s participation in terrorism have any positive impact on their place in society?

In Bombshell, Mia Bloom seeks to understand what motivates women and to redress the gap in our understanding of women’s roles by interviewing women previously involved in terrorist groups. Bloom provides a unique and rare first-hand glimpse into the psychology, culture and social networks of women who become terrorists. Bombshell takes an in-depth look at women involved in terrorism in Chechnya, Colombia, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.

Drawing on primary research and secondary literature, Bloom examines the increasing role of women in terrorism, and considers what it means for the societies from which they come.

(Hurst Publishers)

Keywords: gender studies, terrorism

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Terrorism Regions: Africa, MENA, East Africa, Americas, North America, South America, Asia, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Europe, Central Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Western Europe Countries: Colombia, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America

Year: 2011

Muscular Nationalism: Gender, Violence, and Empire in India and Ireland, 1914-2004


Banerjee, Sikata. 2012. Muscular Nationalism: Gender, Violence, and Empire in India and Ireland, 1914-2004. Gender and Political Violence. New York: New York University Press.

Author: Sikata Banerjee


A particular dark triumph of modern nationalism has been its ability to persuade citizens to sacrifice their lives for a political vision forged by emotional ties to a common identity. Both men and women can respond to nationalistic calls to fight that portray muscular warriors defending their nation against an easily recognizable enemy. This “us versus them” mentality can be seen in sectarian violence between Hindus and Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalas, Serbs and Kosovars, and Protestants and Catholics. In Muscular Nationalism, Sikata Banerjee takes a comparative look at India and Ireland and the relationship among gender, violence, and nationalism. Exploring key texts and events from 1914-2004, Banerjee explores how women negotiate “muscular nationalisms” as they seek to be recognized as legitimate nationalists and equal stakeholders in their national struggles. 
Banerjee argues that the gendered manner in which dominant nationalism has been imagined in most states in the world has had important implications for women’s lived experiences. Drawing on a specific intersection of gender and nationalism, she discusses the manner in which women negotiate a political and social terrain infused with a masculinized dream of nation-building. India and Ireland—two states shaped by the legacy of British imperialism and forced to deal with modern political/social conflict centering on competing nationalisms—provide two provocative case studies that illuminate the complex interaction between gender and nation.
(New York University Press)

Topics: Armed Conflict, Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Nationalism, Political Participation, Violence Regions: Asia, South Asia, Europe, Western Europe Countries: India, Ireland

Year: 2012

From the Global to the Local: Grounding UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in Post Conflict Policy Making


McWilliams, Monica, and Avila Kilmurray. 2015. “From the Global to the Local: Grounding UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in Post Conflict Policy Making.” Women’s Studies International Forum 51 (July): 128–35. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2014.11.006.


Authors: Monica McWilliams, Avila Kilmurray


Given that women consistently receive less attention than men in peace building and that gender analysis rarely informs strategies related to conflict transformation, this article examines how a European Union (EU) PEACE III project, titled Women and Peacebuilding: Sharing the Learning, addresses this gap. It challenges the hierarchal nature of the dialogue on peace building in a post conflict society and suggests how this can be changed. It shows how activists and policy-makers can become more engaged around UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and argues that if government officials had adopted a more contextualised, bottom–up system of policy making, they could have engendered social transformation within the broader processes of post-conflict transition.11
This paper refers to the post conflict context in Northern Ireland but focuses more on the transitional process.
The project's findings are framed within the context of the dominant discourses on peace and security and should be relevant to those engaged in the implementation of UNSCR 1325 in other post conflict societies.

Topics: Gender, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325 Regions: Europe, Northern Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland, United Kingdom

Year: 2015

"Negotiating New Roles:" Irish Republican Women and the Politics of Conflict Transformation


Gilmartin, Niall. 2015. “Negotiating New Roles: Irish Republican Women and the Politics of Conflict Transformation.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (1): 58–76. doi:10.1080/14616742.2013.806060.

Author: Niall Gilmartin


Based on in-depth interviews, this article critically assesses the current roles that Republican women occupy as the North of Ireland continues to emerge from conflict. In doing so, it argues that women's political mobilization during the conflict period can be carried forward into post-war scenarios; however, it is the nature of that activism that proves problematic. The conflict transformation period witnessed a more highly formalized role for Republicans that contrasts sharply with radical spaces opened up during the conflict; in particular, the re-emergence of rigid state institutions coupled with formal political parties appears to severely restrict women's sense of political mobility. As Republicans move away from ‘revolutionary agitation’ into more formalized politics, many Republican women are encountering cultural and structural barriers to their involvement within that realm. This research finds that while some women are participating within the sphere of formal politics, many are continuing their political activities within the community and voluntary sector, which they view as a far more effective mechanism for exerting political agency.

Keywords: Republican women, feminism, North of Ireland, conflict resolution, female combatants, women's activism

Topics: Civil Society, Development, Gender, Women, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Post-Conflict Reconstruction Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland

Year: 2015

Troubled Engagement in Ethnicized Conflict


Byrne, Siobhan. 2014. “Troubled Engagement in Ethnicized Conflict.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 16 (1): 106–26. doi:10.1080/14616742.2012.757020.

Author: Siobhan Byrne


Feminist cross-community initiatives, which emerged in Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine in the 1980s, are frequently lauded in the gender and conflict literature as evidence of the ways in which women can work across ethnonational boundaries. In particular, the theory of ‘transversal dialogue’, developed by Nira Yuval-Davis and adopted by other feminist scholars and activists, suggests that participants have developed a mode of dialogue that enables them to acknowledge differences while developing common goals. In ethicized conflict, transversal politics is understood as an alternative to the essentializing of ‘identity politics’ as well as their undemocratic character. The empirical research, however, suggests that identity politics remains relevant for participants, particularly when cross-community dialogue is limited by external political realities and internal community divisions. In my view, understanding the ways in which identity politics contributes to the development of feminist goals related to women's inclusion in peace processes and post-conflict peace-building is not at odds with transversal politics; rather, women use both modes of politics to build feminist networks and tackle women's marginalization in hyper-masculinized and militarized zones of ethnicized conflict.

Keywords: cross-community feminist activism, ethnicized conflict, identity politics, Israel/Politics, Northern Ireland, transversalism

Topics: Armed Conflict, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Post-Conflict Regions: Africa, MENA, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland, Israel

Year: 2014

Gender and Consociational Power-Sharing in Northern Ireland


Hayes, Bernadette C. and Ian McAllister. 2012. “Gender and Consociational Power-Sharing in Northern Ireland.” International Political Science Review 34 (2): 123-139.

Authors: Bernadette C. Hayes, Ian McAllister


Designing political arrangements is the most viable approach to resolving inter-communal divisions in post-conflict societies. Yet women are frequently ill-served by such peace settlements, since gender equality is often sacrificed in an effort to resolve conflicts over national identity. Northern Ireland is no exception to this trend. Although the 1998 Northern Ireland Agreement made specific provision for gender equality, it was primarily framed in terms of national identity. This article examines to what extent this focus on inter-communal ethnic division undermined support for the Agreement among women. Using data from the 2010 Northern Ireland Election Survey, we examine gender differences in attitudes towards the consociational institutions of government. The results show a significant gender gap in support for the institutional arrangements that were established by the Agreement. We propose and test three explanations to account for this gender gap. 

Keywords: post-conflict, consociationalism, gender, national identity, power-sharing

Topics: Armed Conflict, Civil Wars, Ethnic/Communal Wars, Civil Society, Democracy / Democratization, Domestic Violence, Economies, Poverty, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Men, Girls, Boys, Governance, Constitutions, Elections, Post-conflict Governance, Justice, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Paramilitaries, Nationalism, Peacebuilding, Peace Processes, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Weapons /Arms Regions: Europe, Western Europe Countries: Ireland

Year: 2012

Troubling Masculinities: Changing Patterns of Violent Masculinities in a Society Emerging from Political Conflict


Ashe, Fidelma, and Ken Harland. 2014. "Troubling Masculinities: Changing Patterns of Violent Masculinities in a Society Emerging from Political Conflict." Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 37 (9): 747-762. 

Authors: Fidelma Ashe, Ken Harland


Men's dominance of the political and military dimensions of the Northern Ireland conflict has meant that the story of the conflict has generally been a story about men. Ethno-nationalist antagonism reinforced men's roles as protectors and defenders of ethno-national groups and shaped violent expressions of masculinities. Due to the primacy of ethno-nationalist frameworks of analysis in research on the conflict, the relationships between gender and men's violence have been under-theorized. This article employs the framework of Critical Studies of Men and Masculinities to examine these relationships and also explores the changing patterns of men's violence in Northern Ireland. 

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Governance, Post-conflict Governance, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Nationalism, Post-Conflict Regions: Europe, Northern Europe Countries: Ireland

Year: 2014


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